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Archive by January, 2011

Remix: The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability, By Eduardo Navas

COMPLETE TEXT

“The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability” was published in the CSPA Quarterly, Spring 2010 Issue.  My text is available online according to a Creative Commons License adopted by the CSPA Journal. The content may be copied, distributed, and displayed as long as proper credit is given to the CSPA and the individual author(s), and as long as these contents are used by others for noncommercial purposes only.  Any derivative works that result from these contents must also be shared alike.

The journal is the print publication for The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts, a non-profit that supports artists and organizations in the process of becoming ecologically and economically sustainable while maintaining artistic excellence.

Editor statement for Spring 2010 issue:

In this issue, we’re working against the stereotypes of the form, and attempting to broaden its term. As always, we’re exploring our chosen theme across disciplines and were delighted to include sculpture, visual art, theater, public art, and media art in the following pages. Instead of asking for work based on waste materials, we asked for work built from objects that already exist.

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Abstract: “Remix: The Ethics of Modular Complexity in Sustainability” evaluates sustainability in networked culture.  It considers how the flow of information in terms of immaterial production and its relation to knowledge play a role in a fourth economic layer supported by the growing ubiquity of globalization.  It revisits and expands, yet again, on my interest in Jacques Attali’s concepts of noise and music to propose a critical position fully embedded in pervasive connectivity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This text was written as a testing ground for my growing interest in the concepts of volume and module, as explored in vodule.com.  Consequently, this text uses the term modular complexity, but does not define it.  I consider this text as part of my process to develop a precise definition of modular complexity in social and cultural terms.  The interests that inform this text are also relevant to my current research on Remix and Cultural Analytics.  Future writings will make clear the interrelation of all these ongoing projects.

This online version contains minor edits made in order to clarify the argument.

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At the beginning of the twenty-first century, sustainability can be read with a double meaning: to be self-supportive while socially conscious. This is because specialized fields (and individuals who work in these fields) need to be aware of their interconnectivity if they are to subsist in global culture. Sustainability is relevant in the arts and media according to the interrelation of material and intellectual production, given that such relation supports specialized fields. Sustainability, when linked to social consciousness, modifies how the recycling of material becomes relevant in culture at large. One could promote a philosophy of sustainability, which embodies critical awareness of the politics of intellectual and material property with real consequences in daily life. This is relevant in all areas of culture, even when one may produce strictly in the realm of aesthetics, and other specialized spaces that appear distanced from politics and economy.

The double signification of sustainability also shares principles of recycling with Remix as a form of discourse.  This is because Remix expands across culture from music to ecology: from immaterial pleasure to material responsibility.  The act of remixing has become common due to the rise of information exchange dependent on cut/copy and paste, which is an act of sampling data in all forms.  It enables individuals to apply the attitude of recombining in the realms of aesthetics and material reality, albeit with different results.  To be able to critically understand how such attitude functions in the symbolic and the material is the very challenge of sustainability.

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Research on Remix and Cultural Analytics, Part 1

Image: Composite image of four YouTube video remixes. From top left to bottom right appear thumbnail montages of Charleston — Original Al & Leon Style!!, Charles Style, Charleston Mirror, and Charleston Mix.  Larger images of the montages with proper explanation are included below as part of this introduction to my initial research on viral videos.

As part of my post doctoral research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway, I am using cultural analytics techniques to analyze YouTube video remixes.  My research is done in collaboration with the Software Studies Lab at the University of California, San Diego. A big thank you to CRCA at Calit2 for providing a space for daily work during my stays in San Diego.

What follows is a brief introduction of my preliminary interest on video remixes and how I plan to use cultural analytics to evaluate their evolution on YouTube.  My current research consists of various elements, some which I will not introduce at length today, but will only mention to contextualize the use of video grid montage as an analytical tool.

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The Great Mashup of 2011, by David Carr

Image source: Inhabitat

Note: What better way to begin the new year than to point out the ongoing development of convergence.  The NYTimes survey by David Carr revisits developments I noted two years ago: On Content and Form: 2009 Forecast and Further Reflections on Content and Form; both posts are comments on articles also published on the NYTimes.  It looks like the multipurpose tablet (iPad and its growing competitors) may well become the new fetish through which information will be accessed in mashup form, as Carr proposes.

For years, those of us who toiled in the backwater of media reporting — covering people who cover other people — were left to trace the slow-motion decline of mainstream media and the inconsequential pratfalls of nascent digital efforts.

Click through a few years and suddenly the media landscape looks profoundly altered and punished, like a place where a serious earthquake was followed by a tsunami. News about the news business, once a rare commodity, now comes out of a fire hose, with many days bringing yet another shift in old paradigms.

Two-year-old Web sites are worth more than 50-year-old magazines, storied newspapers are now owned by their lenders, cable news has been upended by partisan shouters, social media now preoccupies attention that used to be owned by mainstream producers, and that television screen in the family den is just one of the numerous screens people are staring at.

So let’s stipulate that the sky is falling and will continue to do so. Rather than look back at the creative destruction that has taken place, I thought it would be worthwhile to click on the future. Here, in no particular order — because the way forward is paved with chaos — are some of the developments you and I will be talking about in the coming year.

Read the complete text at NYTimes

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